UHN suffers computer failure, looking for the cause
January 11, 2023
TORONTO – The University Health Network experienced a day of computer system outages on Monday, forcing it to declare a code grey. The system failure led to the delay of some patient-care procedures, but the hospital was able to restore its computers by the next day.
While the outage occurred just a few weeks after its next-door neighbor, The Hospital for Sick Children, was hit by a ransomware attack that temporarily disabled its computers, the UHN said it didn’t believe its own computer failure was caused by a cyber attack.
“There was no breach of patient data as the problems with the systems were entirely internal,” it said. UHN issued a code grey – a hospital code for system failure – on Monday but released few other details.
In its most recent statement, the network said there would be delays to scheduled care on Tuesday as work is done to input all the information from Monday. “We regret the inconvenience and worry that this has caused for patients and their families. There will also be work to ensure that we correct the causes of the failure,” UHN said.
The hospital network had to cancel six surgeries on Monday and was working to reschedule those as quickly as possible, spokesperson Gillian Howard told a local radio show. During the outage, she said physicians could not see digital imaging systems and patients could not access test results from home through the network’s platform.
The UHN – which operates Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and a number of other healthcare facilities – had to manually collect data on care it delivered on Monday, Howard said.
The UHN outage came after the SickKids hospital issued a code grey last month when a ransomware attack affected its operations. Last week, the children’s hospital said 80 percent of its priority systems had been restored and it did not pay any ransom.
LockBit, a notorious ransomware group, apologized after it claimed one of its partners was behind that attack and offered the hospital a decryptor. SickKids said it had not used it, while its technology teams continued to work to restore the remaining systems.